Sunday, June 7, 2009

The High Cost of Parking: Monday Night at City Council

Council has a couple of interesting agenda items for Monday.

One is a Safe Routes to School grant application for Hallman Elementary School. It asks for $382,000 in Federal funds through ODOT in order to build and improve sidewalks so kids can more safely walk and bike to school.

More interesting is renewing the Downtown Parking District Tax. The tax rate is $130.69 per spot next year to maintain a parking spot in downtown Salem. The total tax levy of the district is $373,550 for the next fiscal year.
$97,289.41 is the cost for the Chemeketa Parkade (26.04%),
$57,282.55 for the Liberty Parkade (15.33%),
$161,088.23 for the Marion Square garage (43.12%).
Total number of spots is 2809.

The total cost to run the District next year is apparently $2,217,690 or $789.49 per spot. Over a 20 year life of a spot, at these rates a spot is worth $15,789.80.


Rebekah said...

Any ideas on exactly why these spots are so expensive?

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

The cost for a new parking spot in a covered facility is around $25,000 or $30,000. Relative to this cost, at something like $66/month per spot, the downtown parking is a value. Parking in other downtowns will cost well over $100/month.

Auto parking is generally expensive, and it's one of several costly ways the public subsidizes auto driving. That's a choice historically we've made, and maybe it's time to shift that subsidy to transit or bicycling or walking.

At the same time, the City and the public does have a genuine interest in making sure downtown doesn't wither but rather becomes more vital. Our downtown is a jewel. Subsidizing ways to get people downtown as part of a strategy to preserve downtown and downtown business is a reasonable choice. But maybe there are better ways now than an exclusive reliance on free parking. At the very least, as gas becomes expensive and greenhouse gases regulated, tying downtown's fortunes to auto traffic is unsustainable in the longer term.